You have a new album out now; I’ve had a chance to listen to it for the last few months. How did you meet Skyrider the person and Skyrider the band?
I met Skyrider through Bleubird, he helped complete some beats I made for Bleubird a few years ago. When we were on the war on self tour we stayed at bud’s house, became friends. When i had returned to the US I was offered a mini tour in Florida with Skyrider, and because I really liked the beats he had been sending me I thought it might be a good idea to see what kinda live set up they were working with, and it blew me away. So I invited them to come to Arizona for a month and make some music, they ended up staying..
In your opinion, what makes this album interesting?
I like the lyrics, the melodies; I think it’s my most listenable record. It gives me a different feeling then other music I’ve made. I feel that its more mature and gives my music a new direction to grow in. I didn’t see any future in continuing to work with freeze wrapped beats made by others, but with this I feel the possibilities are almost endless. The only way I can continue to happily make music is if I revamp it occasionally and breath new life into what I’m doing. The fact that this album is a true collaboration between 4 people is what makes it great, in my opinion.
What is your favourite track on the album?
“Stupid things implode on themselves.” I had laid off on “concept songs” for a long time, so it was fun to make a song with a sort of narrative.
Do you think being 30 is too old to make hip hop? Do you see yourself making hip hop in ten years?
If there is anything I will outgrow it is being broke; I already have. I see myself making music for the rest of my life. I don’t think being 30 is too old to make hip hop. I think being 30 is too old to be doing wu-tang impersonations for sure though. Rap is art, and if you see it as an identity thing, you’re missing out on what is really great about rap, the clothes and attitude are the worst part! Bring the social relevance back! I’ll still be making hip hop in ten years, if what I’m doing now is hip hop…
What do you mean about the line “you can’t clean every toilet in the city”?
I mean… you gotta pick one thing and focus on it at times, if you try to do everything at once you get overwhelmed and don’t accomplish what you set out to do. It’s kinda like, “save the cheerleader save the world.”
You spent some time in Barcelona, how did you end up living back in Arizona?
I always loved Arizona. It was by far my favorite state to spend time outside. After traveling so many European cities I couldn’t imagine living in some ugly American city again, so I figured if was gonna be in America I wanted to be in the middle of nowhere.
What do you mean by the line “if I’m so east coast how did I end up in the west”?
Well, that’s a 10-year-old line now. At the time I felt that I had grown up with east coast hip hop values and taken them to heart, so that when it was time to engage the hip hop world, maybe I took it too far, and only saw my values reflected on the west coast. I should have said, “I’m so east i should play all my shows in Germany…”
Is any music inspiring you right now?
Silver Mount Zion, good songs by Lil Wayne or Young Jeezy; that’s about it. I find myself listening more to democracy now, c span, or NPR then anything else.
“we had a good group of friends who as teenagers fed off each other’s creativity and kept each other going. That’s what its all about, similar to peanuts & corn or clotheshorse…”
What makes Portland Maine a place where good music talent comes from in general?
Uhhh…. is it a good place for music to come from? I think a few of us were just doing the right thing at the perfect time. We left Portland because nothing was going on, there was no support for what we were doing. jd walker stayed, me mayo, alias, and moodswing headed west… I don’t think its any better then any other place. I think we had a good group of friends who as teenagers fed off each other’s creativity and kept each other going. That’s what its all about, similar to peanuts & corn or clotheshorse or whatever, just friends helping each other out. We were seeking something, we found it, and kept going, and because we were relentless in our pursuit of it we sought out many others and continued our quest… all in all, Portland Maine is a beautiful city, with lots of good people and good restaurants. I think if Portland has thriving scenes now, it’s because people there support each other.
One of the most popular rappers out here in western Canada is Josh Martinez. How did he ever end up on anticon and how did he end up leaving?
I first heard Matty years ago when he was working with Sixtoo. Him and I always got a long quite well, but he got hooked up with anticon around the time when anticon was still trying to define itself. He was also doing the low pressure thing at the time so we just felt it would be best if he did his own thing, we were really overwhelmed with trying to do good for all the artists we were working with at the time.
Do you still talk to Sixtoo?
When Sixtoo moved out of Oakland we didn’t talk for a long time, but in the last few years we have started talking again. It’s always really nice to connect with old friends.
“idiots shouldn’t listen to my music anyway, there is nothing there for them but doubt.”
What is the best thing that rap has done for you?
My wife. She used to live in Virginia and knew a bunch of kids who were anticon fans, she ended up going to scribble jam and we met on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley, I told her if she gave me her number I’d call her next time I had a show, I didn’t have any upcoming shows, so we went to a Mogwai concert the next night instead.
Some people don’t like your music, what do you think turns them off?
A lot of things, some people don’t like my attitude in general. Some people have false preconceptions about being “wacky white weird not hip hop enough” kinda bullshit. Some people have double standards for lyrics and find my content to redundant but listen to bullshit indy rock where all they talk about is fake love all the time. for some rock people I’m too rap, for some rap people I’m too “white,” to people who have never heard my music I “try too hard to be different.” but I don’t get too worked up, idiots shouldn’t listen to my music anyway, there is nothing there for them but doubt.
A lot of people like your music, what do you want them to take away from your music?
Well first of all i want people to enjoy it. I want people to hopefully see what they can take from my perspective on things, if the information is or isn’t useful to them. I hope some people will find it clever or interesting. I think an underlying theme in all my music is that people should follow their passions and try to realize whatever it is inside them that makes them the happiest, at the same time trying to always improve on one’s self, to become more informed, more compassionate, more resolute. You know, I make what I want to make and if there are people who listen, great.
Who do you consider friends within music circles?
Hmm. Some people you meet and click with and say “I really like that person, he is my friend,” i would say that about lots of people, from The Notwist and B Fleishman, to anticon, to the Skyrider band, to the Strange Famous Records people, to Bleubird, and various other people who have been good to me through various periods in my life. Pedestrian & jd walker are probably my “best friends,” some people are real close during certain periods of your life and you grow away from them, for whatever reasons… pretty much everyone I know is a musician, so all my friends have cds out…
You have toured in Europe numerous times. What is your favourite memory? What is Russia like?
My favorite memory is definitely my Mediterranean tour I did with Yasamin a few years ago. It was so traumatic being in eastern Europe, it really fucked my head up. i had genuine fear in Tel Aviv, Bosnia and Belgrade, and after times like that you always feel stronger. It did a lot for my perspective as far as really getting a grim report on how real people live on the outskirts of the empire….
Russia was amazing. It was a festival in Moscow. They were trying to book some NY rappers, but they didn’t want to come because of terrorist threats. It just so happened to be on my birthday the date of the show, so i got flown to Russia, got paid a huge sum, and wandered around buying Lenin pins and shit. I found my music on the black market; they recognized me and gave me a bunch of tortoise and godspeed bootlegs, as well as some anticon bootlegs. I found it interesting that the police carry semi automatic weapons and that there were people who knew my music there. I lived in fear of being blown up by atomic weapons since I was child, so to be there in Moscow performing to a good audience was definitely a crazy moment of my life.
What is your favourite album you have done?
The new one.
Any last words, shout-outs, etc?
Thanks for supporting my music MC Epic. Good luck with things.